OVERVIEW: The Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation supports medical research, mostly related to blindness. Giving is diverse, though, with significant grants for autism, cancer, and other diseases.
IP TAKE: Gund prioritizes disease research and gives grants every year ranging from a few thousand to several million dollars. The foundation does not have staff or a website and provides no clear guidelines for grantseekers.
PROFILE: The Gund name is well known in philanthropy circles, especially in the Midwest. When wealthy banker and investor George Gund passed away in the 1960s, he endowed his foundation with more than half a billion dollars, creating one of the more active philanthropies in the region, giving mostly to arts, education, and the environment. The Gund family carries on the tradition of giving with a dozen or so foundations bearing the name.
Through two foundations, the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation and the Gordon and Llura Gund 1993 Charitable Foundation, the couple gives notable support to medical research, the environment, the arts, and various other community and humanitarian causes. Gordon and wife Llura are signatories to the Giving Pledge.
In 1970, at age 30, Gordon Gund lost his sight to retinitis pigmentosa. Since then, he and Llura have prioritized funding for research on blindness and eye diseases. In 1971, they established the Foundation Fighting Blindness (formerly the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation), and the organization represents their largest philanthropic cause. Every year, the foundations give millions to the organization (and other blindness groups).
Gund also supports autism research. While it is not clear if there is another personal connection here, the couple gives a lot to this issue. Specifically related to science research, smaller grants have supported a variety of medical research causes including Lyme disease, cystic fibrosis, and stem cell research.
The foundations seem to be almost purely the work of the couple and their philanthropic interests. Neither foundation has staff and the larger of the two has only two trustees—the Gunds themselves. There are no public guidelines or procedures, and the only record of giving appears to be in tax filings.
Accessing the foundations requires significant networking, but the sheer size of the couple’s annual giving means they should not be overlooked, particularly for those working in blindness or autism.
- Gordon Gund, Trustee and Donor
- Llura Gund, Trustee
Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation
14 Nassau Street
Princeton, New Jersey 08542